Jayme trains wild mustang, "Bull," who was captured on the high plains of Wyoming.
Dreams Versus Regrets
Jayme sees the world through the lens of story. "Since the dawn of humankind," he says, "stories are the main way we have made sense of the world." Jayme's first love and main storytelling medium is writing, but he employs all forms including photography, film, art, and dance.
Storytelling pulled at Jayme his entire life even when he he, like so many people, focused on other interests mainly out of the need to make a living. He spent his earliest years in suburbs then lived on the family cattle farm where he began to thrive. He graduated from Auburn University in Agricultural Business and Economics then became a high school agriculture teacher. He continued his education and worked his way into the speaking and consulting industry after founding a management consulting firm specializing in human performance technology. Then one summer, in a twist of fate, he took several months off to get away and finish writing a business book. He had no idea his life would change forever.
Have you ever, while visiting a new place, felt you've lived there your entire life? Wyoming and the American West enlivened Jayme, and he begin writing long letters to his friends and family describing the place and his experiences, which they had not understood. Unintentionally, many of the letters took the form of stories, and people began passing them around. Jayme, now bored with his business book, deleted the manuscript and never wrote another word on the subject. But as if someone had opened up a spigot in his head, stories of all kinds, mostly nonfiction, poured out, and after spending long days in the saddle, Jayme would sit next to a old, discarded lamp in the old bunkhouse late every night pecking out stories to the sounds of eighty-five horses stomping their feet and swishing their horses outside in the corral.
Little did he know that these experiences were pushing him toward his eventual writing specialty, narrative nonfiction. But though writing was becoming a calling, he didn't understand that making meaningful progress would require twenty years of financial and emotional struggle.
After the summer, he returned to tell his business manager he was closing his consulting firm. After having remodeled and refurnished his home, he held a pennies-on-the-dollar yard sale and sold his house to the first person who walked through the door. He purchased a diesel pickup, threw his saddle in the bed, and headed back to Wyoming, never to return.
Now this planner-by-nature had no plan. He simply knew, as clearly as any knowing in his life, that he must go and he must write. That he would have no income didn't occur to him, and though he worked every kind of cowboy-type job he could find, meager wages meant he lived mostly on past profits. All the while he, working any menial job he could get, continued to write though he couldn't get a word published. After a decade his cash ran out, and for periods Jayme was homeless. At times, almost buckling under the weight of financial worries and second-guessing, Jayme wondered if he had made a terrible mistake. What had he done with his life?
But during the darkest moments, a voice deep inside told him he was in the right place doing the right thing. Defying logic and reality, he forged ahead and along the way developed a love and understanding of western poetry and music, and met several independent filmmakers producing fascinating small films. A knowledge of these genres, paired with a growing understanding of his southern storytelling culture, begin to form in him an even greater understanding of storytelling, which was becoming his lens through which he saw and understood the world.
Fifteen years later, Jayme had only published a few articles in terrible magazines with minuscule readerships. Then he was offered a teaching assistantship to study for an MFA under Judy Blunt, one of his favorite writers, at the University of Montana, where he studied and earned a Bertha Morton Fellowship. While at Montana he published twenty-two articles, some of which are posted on this site, along with several poems and numerous photographs. His work won a Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship in Creative Nonfiction and the Blanchan Award for nature writing.
After graduate school, Jayme returned to Wyoming where he started his own business and turned to writing books. He has completed his first, a memoir about his months-long horseback expedition along the Continental Divide, and is now shopping the manuscript while working on a novel.
If he could go back, would he make the same life changes knowing that his path would have been so much easier had he remained in his speaking and consulting career? He could've retired by now to write full-time. Yes he would, because he could not have lived with the regret turning his back on his dreams would have caused. Some things a person must do regardless of the cost.
Today Jayme owns a small business in Missoula, Montana where he attended school. He is working on a novel. He also shoots photographs and occasionally works on a collaborative storytelling project involving other art forms. He dream of influencing people through stories still drives him.